During the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, online dating suddenly became the only ‘safe’ way to date. But, unfortunately, it turns out that it may not be as secure as we thought it would be, at least when it comes to the privacy and security of our personal data.
This is what emerges from two Mozilla Foundation’s * Privacy Not Included guides, which help consumers find secure technology and software tools that respect user privacy. The last closely examined 24 dating apps and 26 connected sex toys for privacy and security issues. Almost 70 percent (21 out of 24) of dating apps have achieved the “* Privacy Not Included” label, which means they are neither private nor secure. Interestingly, the sex toys were much safer, with only seven of the 26 failing to make the cut.
“Connected sex toys, go for it!” * Privacy not included Senior researcher Jen Caltrider told Avast. “Dating apps on the other hand, holy cow. They are horrible.
Caltrider, whose background is in artificial intelligence, points out that many dating apps claim that personal information is better matches. As a result, people are sharing incredibly personal facts – from their sexual preferences to whether their parents are still married to whether or not they use drugs to the type of car they drive – with these companies.
“I don’t know how convinced I am,” Caltrider says, when it comes to asserting that this type of information will lead to a better and more fulfilling love life. However, this will contribute to a vast mine of data about you which can then potentially be packaged and sold. For example, Grindr – the dating app for gay, bisexual and trans men – was a fine of nearly $ 12 million in January 2021 for alleged illegal data sharing under GDPR.
“Grindr is so bad,” Caltrider says. “It’s so incredibly bad. It shouldn’t be on anyone’s phone.
Additionally, Caltrider points out, there is no transparency about the algorithms these companies use behind the scenes. According to her, that means “you don’t know what is being collected or why or how it affects the way you go out.”
This means that you don’t know, for example, that if you linger a little longer on a photo of a blonde woman instead of a brunette, you might never see a dark-haired woman again on. your screen. Caltrider asks, “Who creates these apps? Who creates these algorithms? ”
The * Privacy Not Included guide also revealed that many dating apps ask for unnecessary permissions. For example, Christian Mingle and JDate both require permission to access your phone’s flashlight. “Even more disturbing,” Caltrider says, Christian mingles asks for the option to deactivate your lock screen. There is no clear reason why a dating app would need either of these capabilities, and as privacy-conscious customers now know, asking for unnecessary app permissions is the way to go. one of the surest signs of an imprecise business.
Most of these companies also don’t do a great job when it comes to keeping all of that personal data safe. “Almost every major has had their data compromised at some point,” Caltrider explains. She points to the 70,000 images of women from Tinder that are for sale on the Dark Web as an example of what can happen when this data leaks.
Speaking of data leaks and data sharing, many dating apps require or provide the ability to sign up with your Facebook ID. The reason for not using Facebook logins for dating apps is the same reason for not using it for other services: it means the app can and will share data with Facebook – and vice versa. In other words, you make it easier of them companies to collect data about you. And you expose yourself to other security risks if the dating app leaks your Facebook credentials.
“It’s handy: ‘I can sign up with Facebook and it’s really easy!’ Says Caltrider. ” No. Use a phone number if that’s an option. It’s something easy to do and it’s a better alternative.
For people who want to continue dating online but want to keep their privacy and security safe, Caltrider says there was only one app she felt good about: Lex. However, The ex has a very specific user base. It is, according to their website, “For queer, trans, gender nonconforming, two-spirit, and non-binary people.” To meet lovers and friends. For people who don’t fit into these categories, Caltrider says that eHarmony and Happn are “not perfect, but better”.
“I wish there was a Lex for every community,” Caltrider adds.
When it comes to connected sex toys, the * Privacy Not Included guide found that most did a fairly good job, with a few notable exceptions. The most problematic toy is the Qiui cellmate, a male chastity device that has been in the news in recent months for users who get hacked and are forced to pay ransom to unlock their genitals. Other toys that have been sounded include the Genie sex doll, Real doll X, luxury brand toys I’m playing, the cowgirl, and Motorbunny Controller & Link.
On the flip side, toys from Lovense, Vibease, WeVibe, and OhMiBod – all brands that have been in the sextech game for a long time – have made a difference.
The only advice Caltrider has for people using connected sex toys? Change the name of your Bluetooth connection.
“If it appears like ‘The Cowgirl,’ replace it with ‘toothbrush’,” Caltrider says. “People are less likely to hack a ‘toothbrush’. ”